As lawyers, we are under constant pressure to work more and sleep less. However, it’s important that we prioritize sleep to the benefit of our careers, our health, and our happiness.
“The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life,” says Sleep Scientist Matt Walker in an April 2019 Ted Talk. During his talk, entitled Sleep is Your Superpower, Walker explores the many physiological downsides to not getting enough sleep.
Not getting enough sleep can suppress your immune system, and may lead to increased risks of inflammation, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Walker also describes how sleep impacts memory—without enough sleep, the brain has difficulty forming and storing new memories. “Sleep isn’t an optional lifestyle luxury, it’s a nonnegotiable biological necessity,” Walker implores.
Indeed, there is evidence that getting less sleep may be linked to increased mortality rates. Recent research cited in an article in the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest states that “approximately 65 minutes more than, or under, the average nightly sleep duration (7 hours in this sample) was associated with a 10 per cent increased risk of dying over the course of the study.”
The article, called “Researchers identify sleep as a key reason why personality traits predict longevity,” explores the connections between personality, sleep, and health. For instance, participants who scored low on the trait of conscientiousness also tended to be people who got less sleep and were more likely to die before the end of the research period.
Additionally, the National Health Institute has a wealth of information about how sleep (or lack thereof) plays a role in health, safety, brain performance, and learning. Scientific research continually reminds us that sleep is important for both our physical and mental well-being, but what can we do to get more or better quality sleep?
We’ve created a free downloadable PDF e-book, Sleep Matters!. Not only do we further explore why sleep matters, but we offer tips to help you improve your sleeping habits and provide a document that you can use to track your sleep. This book is part of our Healthy Habits content series and Happy Effective Lawyer Workstyles, which also include several other e-books. We hope that you find these resources to be helpful in improving your practice of both law and life.